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Stars struggling for answers after fifth straight loss

Goalie Khudobin says they're 'not angry enough' after falling to 1-7-1

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery wants to see more passion from his struggling team. He's just not sure how to ignite it.

The Stars have lost five games in a row after the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated them 4-2 on Friday, prompting goalie Anton Khudobin to say they're "not angry enough" about losing.

Informed of Khudobin's comments, Montgomery said he agreed.

How, then, does he get the Stars angrier? At this point, Montgomery said there isn't a simple solution.

"If I had the answer, we'd be doing it right now, right?" he said. "You can't drive passion into people. You can try everything. You can try motivational tactics. You can try everything, but it has to come from within. Ultimately, if there's a puck between you and I, I'd bite your leg off to get it. That's the attitude you have to have. Anton had that competitive spirit tonight that we need to permeate throughout our lineup."

Not enough Stars did.

Khudobin, who made 29 saves on 32 shots, said his teammates should be seething, "just tired of losing."

He has a point.

Dallas is 1-7-1 through nine games and will conclude its four-game road trip against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSP, FS-SW, NHL.TV).

Stars general manager Jim Nill said there are no quick-fix solutions for them, especially this early in the season.

"We just got to work ourselves out of this," he told after the game. "You can say you are going to make trades, but those don't happen overnight either. We just have to keep at it and go from there."

Video: Letang powers Penguins to 4-2 win against Stars

Nill said trade talk is minimal throughout the NHL at this point.

"I always say that you're looking all the time," he said. "If someone calls and there's something that makes us better, you're always going to do that. But what are we, nine games in? There's not a lot going on right now."

There's not a lot going on with the Stars offense either. They are averaging 1.89 goals per game, last in the NHL, despite having proven scorers like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov.

Nill said the power play is at the root of the problem. The Stars went 0-for-1 against the Penguins and are 1-for-25 this season; only the Ottawa Senators have scored fewer goals with the man-advantage (0-for-21).

"Our power play has got to get better," Nill said. "We've been in [six] one-goal games the whole way, and the power play has got to score. Your best players have got to do it."

They haven't to this point.

Seguin led the Stars with 80 points (33 goals, 47 assists) last season but has four (two goals, two assists) this season. Radulov, coming off a 72-point season (29 goals, 43 assists), also has four (one goal, three assists). Benn, the Dallas captain, has three points (one goal, two assists) after he had 53 (27 goals, 26 assists) in 2018-19.

The Stars signed Pavelski to a three-year contract July 1 in the hopes that he'd add some extra scoring punch, but he's struggled, with two points (one goal, one assists) in nine games for Dallas after he had 64 (38 goals, 26 assists) for the San Jose Sharks last season.

"It's puzzling," Nill said before disappearing into the coaches' room.

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